The Iloilo city government’s projects on the development of the Iloilo River has earned another praise this time from former Kalibo mayor and three-term congressman of Aklan province, Allen Quimpo.
“The initiatives done by Mayor (Jed Patrick) Mabilog are indeed very good. It’s also a good thing that (Sen.) Frank Drilon is there to help (Iloilo City),” he said in an interview.
Quimpo, who currently heads the Kalibo Save the Mangroves Association (KASAMA) in New Buswang, Kalibo, Aklan, was one of the participants in the Iloilo River Summit held here in March.
He was then Kalibo’s chief executive when mangrove reforestation project started around the mouth of Aklan River in 1990.
The successful development of the area in New Buswang has now turned a former sprawling mudflat to a mangrove forested area with abundant flora and fauna encompassing more than 100 hectares.
Over a million trees have been planted to date, Quimpo said.
“The challenge is greater for Iloilo because of already well-entrenched businesses,” he stated.
While Iloilo River can’t be turned into a full mangrove area, he suggested the city government just has to ensure that there will be no additional land reclamation.
The embankment also needs to be fixed and may be planted with mangroves, he observed.
“What is needed to implement this is political will of the mayor,” Quimpo said.
Quimpo also advised Mabilog to let the community handle the projects. “It’s better to let the people be the ones to initiate while getting support from the local government.”
“Iloilo is facing a critical problem because of pollution. If you don’t know how to manage it, it will become a dead river. Just like Pasig,” he warned.
“This is the best time to do something and be united about it,” he said.
The river, a 15-kilometer long estuarine, is actually an arm of the sea dividing the districts of City Proper, Molo and Arevalo from the districts of La Paz, Lapuz, Jaro and Mandurriao.
It serves as nursery for many important fish species such as bangus and tilapia, while sea bass or “bulgan” are once again thriving in the river after disappearing from quite some time because of pollution.
The Iloilo River is also home to 22 of the country’s 35 mangrove species as well as the rare emerald shrimp species, metapenaues insolitus.